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German Foreign Minister Urges Russia To Save INF Treaty

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on January 18.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged Russia to help prevent a new arms race by saving a key arms treaty with the United States.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow on January 18, Maas called on Moscow to destroy a type of missile that Washington alleges violates the treaty.

U.S. President Donald Trump last year announced that the United States will pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because of Russian violations.

Reacting to Maas's remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied Russia had violated the INF treaty.

In comments quoted by Russia media, Lavrov said U.S. officials had informed Moscow that their decision was final and not open to negotiation.

Washington has said it will exit the treaty in early February if Moscow does not end its violations.

Russia denies the missile in question -- referred to as the 9M729 -- violates the INF treaty.

Maas also said the INF treaty was necessary but not sufficient given the emergence of new technologies since the treaty was originally signed.

Maas highlighted cyberwarfare as an example of such new technologies.

The INF bans ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Nearly 2,700 missiles were eliminated by the Soviet Union and the United States -- most of the latter in Europe -- under the treaty.

Russia has warned that if the United States abandons the pact and deploys such missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond in kind.

Based reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, and TASS